So far I’ve shared three different places from which I started the book. I worked backwards starting off right at the beginning of my first episode and then kept adding chapters in front to give more background and build up. It’s my first ever book so I’m just learning about narrative structure as I go along. But there’s another opening, one that I was keeping a secret.
Where I really started the book, before I dove into the action, was with a prologue. A very short prequel to the whole thing. It’s completely different from the rest of the book because the narrative voice is from before my human personality was formed. Writer and current writing support, Elizabeth Diamond didn’t like it. She thought I risked excluding too many readers. I think that’s why I kept it a secret from you. But I recently read it out at a writing space that I attend at my local library and it got the thumbs up from them. So here it is:
“We are floating in a red ocean of silky nourishment, a dreamy comfort blanket. Each new moment, a growth. There is nothing to do but be. Not even breathing is necessary. No pathways laid down yet to hardwire our experience and limit our perception. Just the reassuring Mother’s heartbeat that drum rolls our entry into the world.
“I can feel you, a reassuring confirmation, when part of you, a toe, a finger, gently brushes against mine. I know you’re there without this but feeling it makes it more real.
“But we’re not going to make it again. Last time we died only a few hours after we were born. Mum felt punished for being out of wedlock. We have to make a different choice this time.
“‘One of us has to go.’ I don’t know if that is your thought or mine. It’s hard to tell in this in-between place. I do know that before we’re even born, one of us has to die, otherwise we both will.
“I feel a hunger in my heart, ravenousness for life. You like this in-between worlds, the growth without challenge. I couldn’t bear to be born without you. But only one of us can survive. We play a game to decide who stays and who goes. Who lives and who dies. I lose. You choose.
“I am born on 17th October 1969, in Bombay, India, three weeks early. And you die before you are born. You’d rather be my guardian angel. I feel the loss of you deeply, but until I remember, my grief will be out of reach, like a treasure chest at the bottom of the sea.”
You have to read it very carefully to get the gist of what’s going on. And that’s why I like it. It makes the reader work for their meal. It also sets up a spiritual dimension to the book which I think is important. If it’s going to put off half the readers then maybe that’s no bad thing. What do you think?